50 Amazing Authors We Should Recognize on Children’s Book Day

Every year, April 2nd is a day for schools, libraries and bookstores to celebrate Children’s Book Day. Whether throwing an elaborate shindig or something a little more low-key, the one thing these springtime celebrations have in common is the desire to honor the best of the best kid-lit authors and books. Anyone planning to spend Children’s Book Day with a few good reads may want to browse this list for some suggested authors. By no means neither definitive nor objective (beyond researching award-winners and classics), please take no offense to any exclusions or inclusions.

  1. Avi: This highly-decorated author delights children and young adults with historical fiction, animal tales and adventures, with Nothing But the Truth probably considered his most popular work.
  2. L. Frank Baum: Parents and children alike still delight in the tales from the whimsical Land of Oz — and not just the one about the iconic wizard, either!
  3. Ludwig Bemelmans: As both an artist and an illustrator, Ludwig Bemelmans brought little redheaded Madeline to life and launched her to children’s series stardom.
  4. Stan and Jan Berenstain: The Berenstain Bears are a staple of American children’s literature, with their many adventures teaching kids some extremely valuable life lessons.
  5. Judy Blume: With plenty of awards and enduring titles such as Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Blubber and the Fudge series, Judy Blume is an essential author for any Children’s Book Day list or celebration.
  6. Marc Brown: For the past 35 years, this beloved author and illustrator has brought the ups and downs of Arthur the aardvark and his amazing anthropomorphic pals to kids and their parents alike.
  7. Joseph Bruchac: Joseph Bruchac pulls from his Abenaki background (as well as other Native American cultural traditions) to educate people of all ages about the endangered civilizations. Along with the bestselling Keepers series, he also brings his heritage to schools through musical and poetic performances.
  8. Jean de Brunhoff: Babar the Elephant and his gentle exploits came into existence thanks to the storytelling efforts by author and illustrator Jean de Brunhoff, inspired by bedtime stories his wife Cecile would tell their sons.
  9. Betsy Byars: Busy Betsy Byars has multiple prestigious awards — including the Newbery — and over 60 publications to her name. The Summer of the Swans is probably her most famous work to date.
  10. Eric Carle: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other books punctuate educational stories with Eric Carle’s signature illustrations, fraught with amazingly vivid colors and textures.
  11. Lewis Carroll: Because Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Jabberwocky‘s clever wordplay and whimsical worlds both left an indelible mark on popular culture, Lewis Carroll certainly earns Children’s Book Day accolades.
  12. Sandra Cisneros: Though mostly known for her gorgeous poetry and adult prose, Sandra Cisneros’ fantastic Hairs/Pelitos celebrates diversity found within a family.
  13. Beverly Cleary: Ralph Mouse and Beezus and Ramona Quimby are only a couple inhabitants of Bevery Cleary’s veritable zoo of beloved children’s book characters.
  14. Roald Dahl: Both adults and kids still laud the quirky, if not downright bizarre, tales by the beloved author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach and plenty more magical classics.
  15. Tomie dePaola: This author and illustrator earned amazing honors — like the Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor Award — for enduring works such as Strega Nona and 26 Fairmont Avenue.
  16. Nikki Giovanni: Kids and parents who love poetry as much as prose should pick up the seriously cool collections Hip Hop Speaks to Children, Ego Tripping and Other Poems for Young People and Vacation Time.
  17. Kenneth Grahame: The Wind in the Willows embroils readers in the fantastic adventures of fanciful Mr. Toad, gruff Mr. Badger and the other inhabitants of the Wild Wood.
  18. Nikki Grimes: All of Nikki Grimes’ prosaic and poetic output for children are great reads, but the Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade makes for the best introduction.
  19. E.L. Konigsburg: Earning a Newbery Medal for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler inspired E.L. Konigsburg to keep writing challenging (but entertaining) fare for children and yong adults.
  20. Madeleine L’Engle: Many budding young science fiction aficionados first discovered the genre thanks to the intelligent complexities found in the accessible A Wrinkle in Time series.
  21. Paul Fleischman: One of the most decorated authors of children’s and young adult fiction boasts a bibliography bursting with essentials. Seedfolks and its portrayal of a diverse neighborhood’s community garden is probably the best place to start.
  22. Jeff Kinney: The series of Diary of a Wimpy Kid cartoonish graphic novels channels many common frustrations children and young adults experience.
  23. C.S. Lewis: Regardless of their religious convictions, a diverse number of readers absolutely adore the The Chronicles of Narnia books and keep them flying off library and classroom shelves.
  24. Astrid Lindgren: Astrid Lindgren’s vivacious Pippi Longstocking continues to delight both children and adults with her boundless energy, wish-fulfilling lifestyle and utter devotion to her more conventional friends.
  25. Lois Lowry: The critically-lauded Lois Lowry won two Newbery Medals for The Giver and Number the Stars, but pretty much everything else she’s written — especially about the quirky Krupnik family — still warrants reading.
  26. Betty MacDonald: Kids who never picked up any books featuring Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and her magical cures for common behavior issues are missing out on some absolutely hilarious stories!
  27. L.M. Montgomery: Male and female readers alike enjoy L.M. Montgomery’s tales from Prince Edward Island, particularly intrepid, fiery ingenue Anne Shirley.
  28. Walter Dean Myers: Three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Walter Dean Myers receives both critical praise and plenty of challenges for his fearless depiction of race, class, urban and war issues in young adult novels such as Fallen Angels and Monster.
  29. Scott O’Dell: All young readers with a particular love of the adventure genre needs to pick up the beloved novels Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Black Pearl for page-turning good times.
  30. Peggy Parish: Not only is the Amelia Bedelia series absolutely hilarious, it also teaches kids the difference between literal and figurative language.
  31. Gary Paulsen: Gary Paulsen’s historical works (notably, Nightjohn) and adventures (notably, Hatchet, the Brian series and The Tucket Adventures series) are absolutely essential reads for fans of the genres.
  32. A.A. Milne: Though primarily an adult author, A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Woods — populated with the likes of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and their human pal for life Christopher Robin — rightfully earned him a spot in the kidlit canon.
  33. Patricia Polacco: Patricia Polacco’s amazing oeuvre includes stories of Jewish faith, culture and tradition, family, friendship and plenty more. Try Mrs. Katz and Tush, which chronicles a satisfying friendship between an African-American boy and an old widow.
  34. Hans Augusto and Margret Rey: Without Curious George, the curious little monkey, the world of children’s literature would certainly sport a giant, gaping yellow hole.
  35. Louis Sachar: There exists a distinct tonal difference between the adventurous Holes and completely wacky Wayside School series, young readers certainly find enough space on their shelves for Louis Sachar’s most beloved books.
  36. Antoine de Saint-Exupery: The Little Prince continues to enchant kids and their parents as a science fiction-tinged fantasy fully of gentle wonder perfect for sharing.
  37. Jon Scieszka: Children tired of the same old fairy tales should pick up Jon Scieszka’s joyfully postmodern collaborations with Lane Smith (most especially The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man (and Other Fairly Stupid Tales) for brand new twists and perspectives.
  38. Maurice Sendak: Beloved author and illustrator Maurice Sendak channels tender charm and imagination into every work, but earns particularly generous accolades for In the Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things are.
  39. Dr. Seuss: Without Dr. Seuss, this author must preach, there would be no Lorax, no Horton, no sneech! No Cat in the Hat, nor fish that is blue. Neither Maisey, nor Grinchy, nor ol’ Thing Two! Thankfully life granted him time, so now kids of all ages can enjoy his great rhyme.
  40. Shel Silverstein: Through songs, multiple poetry collections and prose works such as the thought-provoking narratives of The Missing Piece and The Giving Tree, this wildly talented individual remained many kids’ favorite writers on into adulthood.
  41. Gary Soto: No matter the age bracket or preference towards prose or poetry, the wonderful, prolific Gary Soto has likely published a suitable, interesting read. Try Too Many Tamales and Marisol first!
  42. Jerry Spinelli: Maniac Magee earned Jerry Spinelli a Newbery Award, while Wringer garnered a Newbery Honor. Most of his works, however, make for very worthwhile reading.
  43. John Steptoe: John Steptoe wrote and illustrated 10 of the 15 children’s books with which he was involved, earning the prestigious Coretta Scott King Award for Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, Mother Crocodile (written by Rosa Guy) and The Story of Jumping Mouse. Because of his 20-year career, influence and devotion to promoting African and African-American themes, the kidlit community distributes an award in his honor.
  44. Mildred D. Taylor: This author fictionalized her family history in the epic novels involving the Logan family, most notably Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
  45. Theodore Taylor: Before his 2006 death, Theodore Taylor earned a staggering 11 literary awards for his children’s and young adult classics. The Cay, Timothy of the Cay and The Trouble with Tuck are probably his most recognizable publications.
  46. E.B. White: Stuart Little, Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig are only a few of the highly memorable characters populating E.B. White’s persistently popular children’s novels.
  47. Laura Ingalls Wilder: The semi-autobiographical, widely-read Little House series is a great way to introduce kids to life in America’s pioneer past.
  48. Gene Luen Yang: Sweet-natured graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang produces some amazing art and stories for kids, many of them pulling from Chinese and Chinese-American themes. American Born Chinese rightfully earned him an Eisner Award, a Michael L. Prinz Award and several other prestigious nominations.
  49. Laurence Yep: While Laurence Yep’s career boasts plenty of amazing reads for a variety of different age groups, both the Newbery Honors went towards novels in the Golden Mountain Chronicles series. These epics explore the transition of a Chinese family before, during and after some members immigrate to America.
  50. Jane Yolen: Sometimes referred to as “The Hans Christian Anderson of America,” prolific author Jane Yolen publishes an eclectic assortment of children’s, science fiction, historical and fantasy literature — titles as diverse as the Commander Toad series and The Devil’s Arithmetic.

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